Over time an issue in dealing with an elderly loved one is how to compassionately talk with mom, dad, aunt or family member who exhibits the denial of declining health. This was a major area for me to handle during my family caregiving experiences so I included several suggestions and techniques for you to use in Stepping Up: A Companion and Guide to Family Caregivers.


THESE ARE SOME techniques to use when communicating with elderly parents or family members:


• _Be aware and sensitive to how you respond when talking to an aging or cognitively-challenged person. Sometimes, they can’t find the words to say what they want to say or it takes them longer to find them.


• _Know that the older person usually understands and is aware of far more than they can say in words.


• _Create a comfortable environment to have conversations.


• _Smile and touch them as you talk.


• _Make a guess at what their response might be and see if they shake their heads in the affirmative that may say, “That’s right.”


• _Use a normal speaking voice and talk slowly if you are a fast talker.


• _Try changing the pitch of your voice (low or high) if you think there’s a hearing problem not addressed.


• _Display positive body language—eye contact, good posture, and a smile.


• _Restate your message concisely and straightforward.    


            • _Be patient.


Try these 10 techniques for now and the next post will offer 10 more techniques for successfully talking with your loved ones. These and many other tactics, tips and ideas on this subject and other basic tasks all family caregivers will perform are offered in Stepping Up: A Companion and Guide for Family Caregivers.  To order your personal copy of Stepping Up click here.



The brain gets fatigued after 60-90 minutes of concentrated effort especially when caring for a elderly loved one. At times it may appear we have everything under control even when we are getting things accomplished and don't want interrupt with a break. However, our brain will function better and for longer if we give it a chance to rest and recuperate. Stepping Up:A Companion and Guide for Family Caregivers offers many helpful tips and strategies on taking care of yourself during these times. In addition to the book's techniques, I recently discovered another way to refresh the brain from Linda Graham, MFT. She recommends if you can't take a full day or a full weekend to refresh your brain and recover resilience try the technique below to give your brain a breather in your busy day.

Every 60- 90 minutes:

1. Pause. Take a few seconds to come to conscious awareness of being present and aware in this moment.

2. Bring to the mind one moment of difficulty, pain, suffering and loss from the past. Feel every facet of the memory-visual images of what happened, all the people you were with, any emotions you felt then or any emotions you feel now. As you remember the event, notice any thoughts you have about yourself now as you remember this event.

3. Shift the focus of your awareness to reflect on how you coped with the event and its aftermath. What lessons did you learn? What wisdom did you pull out of the misfortune you were in? What would you do differently, now, having coped with and survived as you did?

4. Shift the focus of your awareness again to how you feel about yourself now. Do you notice any sense of self-acceptance, pride or strength available to you now? 

5. Shift the focus of your attention once more. Notice anything in your surroundings or circumstances, right now, or anything you encounter during the rest of the day that brings even a small acknowledgement of delight: the warmth of the sun on your face, the bitter sweetness of a piece of chocolate, the memory of a recent conversation with a friend. 

6. Take 30 seconds to simply be with and appreciate the joy and pleasure of the moment - let any warm penetration feeling sink into your body. Savor the feeling.

Again, try this and other techniques in Stepping Up:A Companion and Guide for Family Caregivers to assure you resilience from family caregiving and other overwhelming experiences. The book is available on this site, Amazon or your local bookstore.  

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Chocolate is Delicious and Soothing

Recently, I read an article that I feel will be of interest to you as you deal with challenges in your life whether it is family caregiving or not. This information will especially delight the ‘chocolate lovers’ reading this blog. As my friends say, “a little chocolate won’t hurt anybody and it is good for the soul”. (Smile)

The article discussed how to recover and regain yourself from difficulties in life. What we can do to assist us bounce back and be resilience to reduce the risk of a stroke, heart disease diabetes and premature aging? Chocolate is a source for increasing the flow of blood to the brain thus improving cognitive functioning. It also leads the brain to release endorphins making us happier and less stressful.

After a stressful personal airplane experience and a dark chocolate fix by a seatmate, Linda Graham, MLT developed in her Mindful Self-Compassion course a “chocolate meditation”.  Each participant is given small bits of dark chocolate and instructs them to:               


1.  Notice the piece of chocolate in your hand.  Notice any thoughts, feelings, and sensations of anticipation arising as you contemplate the chocolate.


2. Place the chocolate in your mouth, simply noticing the flavors, textures, and melt ability of the chocolate.


3.  As you bite into the chocolate, notice the sweetness, and then notice also the bitterness.  Notice the combination, that chocolate gives us both sweetness and bitterness, at the same time, as does life. 


4.  Reflect on knowing one reality through knowing its opposite: dark and light, sound and silence, easy and difficult, ease and pain, bitter and sweet.  Reflect on moments in your life when you know this to be true.

Try this techniques and let me know about your experience. Did you feel better? Could you bounce back from anxiety faster?  Did you discover a favorite dark chocolate? We look forward to hearing from you in the Like, Comment and Share area.





In celebration of National Family Caregiver Month, I wish to honor my first grade-school friend by briefly sharing her story of walking the family caregiver experience. For approximately twelve years, she cared for her mother who suffered a massive stroke leaving her left side paralyzed. After her mother spends months in intensive care, she goes home, and life for the family significantly changes.

The first day of my girl friend’s early retirement, she begins the around the clock care of her mother because mom can’t perform her ADLs (Activities for Daily Living) tasks. My dear friend establishes a daily routine to care for her mother with the relief of her father, sister and son, when possible.

My friend says she learned many lessons during this time. According to her, “Nobody would take care of my mother like me. Living a high-strung life with many things to do, this experience made me humble and appreciative of the small things in life. I mellowed and found contentment in serving my mother. It made me a better person and I began to understand and experience peace and gratitude. This isn’t the way I planned to spend my initial retirement but I am happy I was willing and available to care for my loving mother.”

Thank you DDH for walking the family caregiver path.

Do you know someone who is walking or walked a similar path? Honor them for their service to someone needing help after a life-changing experience by briefly sharing a few words about your friend or family member. Just use their initials, please.

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U.S.Justice Department Resources for Combating Elder Abuse

September 8, 2014

U.S. Department of Justice Launches the Elder Justice Website
The site offers resources for victims, family members, prosecutors, researchers, and anyone who works with older adults.

· Victims and family members will find information about how to report elder abuse and financial exploitation in all 50 states and the territories.
· Federal, State, and local prosecutors will find three different databases containing sample pleadings and statutes.
· Researchers in the elder abuse field may access a database containing bibliographic information for thousands of articles and reviews.
· Practitioners -- including professionals of all types who work with elder abuse and its consequences -- will find information about resources available to help them prevent elder abuse and assist those who have already been abused, neglected or exploited.

U.S.Justice Department Resouces for Combating Elder Abuse

September 8, 2014

U.S. Department of Justice Launches the Elder Justice Website
The site offers resources for victims, family members, prosecutors, researchers, and anyone who works with older adults.

· Victims and family members will find information about how to report elder abuse and financial exploitation in all 50 states and the territories.
· Federal, State, and local prosecutors will find three different databases containing sample pleadings and statutes.
· Researchers in the elder abuse field may access a database containing bibliographic information for thousands of articles and reviews.
· Practitioners -- including professionals of all types who work with elder abuse and its consequences -- will find information about resources available to help them prevent elder abuse and assist those who have already been abused, neglected or exploited.

Scam Alert by IRS



Scam Phone Calls Continue; IRS Identifies Five Easy Ways to Spot Suspicious Calls

IR-2014-84, Aug. 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert today providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS.

These callers may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information. These con artists can sound convincing when they call. They may know a lot about you, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer, they often leave an “urgent” callback request.

“These telephone scams are being seen in every part of the country, and we urge people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said. “We have formal processes in place for people with tax issues. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how we do business.”

The IRS reminds people that they can know pretty easily when a supposed IRS caller is a fake. Here are five things the scammers often do but the IRS will not do. Any one of these five things is a tell-tale sign of a scam. The IRS will never:


1.       Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice.

2.       Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.

3.       Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card.

4.       Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

5.       Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money, here’s what you should do:


·         If you know you owe taxes or think you might owe, call the IRS at 1.800.829.1040.  The IRS workers can help you with a payment issue.

·         If you know you don’t owe taxes or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1.800.366.4484 or atwww.tigta.gov.

·         If you’ve been targeted by this scam, also contact the Federal Trade Commission and use their “FTC Complaint Assistant” at FTC.gov. Please add &quotIRS Telephone Scam&quot to the comments of your complaint.

Remember, too, the IRS does not use email, text messages or any social media to discuss your personal tax issue.  For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.



The Five Easiest Ways to Give Others and Yourself a Happiness Boost

 This post was passed on to me and I wish to share it. This is a excellent opportunity to introduce you to information on the science of happiness. Happify, the science is valid and the tips are practical.  Enjoy this practice and its benefits.

 Hundreds of studies have found that actively helping people does good things for the psyches of all involved. By going out of your way to bring dinner to an overworked friend, pay for someone else's highway toll, or otherwise lend a hand, you get a positive brain boost and so does the person you helped.

 But Paul Zak, PhD, a neuroeconomist and a professor at Claremont Graduate University, says even less tangible acts of kindness can make the giver-and especially the recipient-feel good. These small deeds require minimal effort on your part but are often experienced just as deeply-or even more so-than many of the run-of-the-mill things people do to be good to one another.


Here are five of Dr. Zak's favorite ways to give the people in his life a little happiness boost (while reaping some of those same feel-good benefits for himself!). See which ones work best for you.


1. Ask "How can I be of service to you?"

Zak repeats this phrase in just about every meeting he attends. Doing so makes your collaborators feel supported and heard, which is especially important around the workplace. This also gives your colleagues a chance to air concerns and ask for any additional help they might need. Of course, this phrase can be used with anyone at any time. If a friend or family member is going through a transition or a busier than usual period-such as welcoming a new baby-a check-in like this will be much appreciated.

2. Maintain eye contact (and stop checking your phone!)

This one sounds easy, until you try it. Chances are that a few moments into conversation you'll become distracted and check the time, glance at the television, or otherwise look away from the person you're speaking with. This isn't just rude-it's also a subconscious indication that you aren't fully engaged. "When someone gives you all of their attention it's a gift," says Zak. "By showing that you're not chained to your device, it's a real show of interest and respect." This one comes up a lot at home for Zak, but it's easy to practice with anyone, from the person bagging your groceries to the receptionist at your office.

 3. Stop pretending you're the only person in the box

Always one to test out new ideas on happiness and connection, Zak recently became an elevator talker. (You know-one of those people who engages with strangers while riding in elevators.) He thinks you should follow suit. "We're in a little box and pretend to be in it alone," says Zak. "So I recently gave myself a rule that every time I get into an elevator I have to say 'Hello, how are you?'" The idea is to make this friendly, not bothersome. Per Zak, some people just smile and nod back, but other people really answer, expressing themselves in a way that makes it clear they've been waiting for someone to ask.

 4. Comment on their emotions

Even if you're not always able to read other people's moods and feelings, chances are you have noticed occasions when your coworkers, friends, and family members have seemed more happy, sad, relaxed, or frustrated than usual. By commenting on these observations you can make a person feel seen; by asking them why they're feeling that way you give them a chance to feel heard, too. "I recently did this with a coworker," says Zak. "She had this glow to her. And she told me that she had recently lost 15 pounds and was feeling great all-around." After a short exchange like this, everyone involved will feel better.

 5. Expand your use of the "L" word

Saying "I love you" is usually second nature around family. You may feel vulnerable saying it to romantic partners at the beginning of a relationship, although after a while that might become automatic too. But what about the other people in your life? The close friends and maybe even longtime colleagues that you really, really like, or, you know, love? Let them know how you feel, suggests Zak. If you have dear friends or colleagues, express it to them using "love" if you're comfortable with it, or other words if you aren't. "Expressing that sentiment produces that level of connection that is powerful for all," says Zak.


Jessica Cassity writes about health, fitness, and happiness for publications including Self, Shape, Health, Women's Health, and Family Circle magazines. Her first book, Better Each Day: 365 Expert Tips for a Healthier, Happier You was published in 2011.

Paul J. Zak, PhD is a scientist, prolific author, and public speaker, and he serves on the faculty at Claremont Graduate University in Southern California

Using Expressions of Gratitude

 The family caregiver journey is very challenging and must have many moments of having mental clarity mixed with mindfulness - living in the moment. Instead of developing these habits, we sometimes reflect on the more challenging things that didn’t happen. Like taking a loved one to a doctor’s appointment and think about the worse outcome before the doctor sees the loved one. 

According to Linda Graham in Bouncing Back, the following exercise will aid you in getting through the almost tough times with gratitude, and eventually getting to the tough times with resilience.

Exercise: Practicing Gratitude for the Bad Things That Don’t Happen

1.        Pay attention, as you go throughout your day, to bad things that might have happened, but they didn’t. You tripped on the sidewalk but you didn’t fall. You felt like you were coming down with a cold, but you didn’t. You almost said something sarcastic to your colleague when they flubbed something, but you didn’t. 

2.        Notice the goodness that something bad didn’t happen. Notice a sense of relief, of ease. Let a feeling of gratitude arise for that moment of relief.

3.        Savor the gratitude for 10-20-30 seconds. Let the moment become a resource for you as you go through the rest of the day. Yes, resilience is coping well with the difficult, sometimes the truly awful. We can recover resources for resilience by noticing how often things go right, for those we care about and ourselves.

4.        Pass this idea along to a friend; ask them later how the coping in their day shifted as they practiced gratitude for the bad things that didn’t happen.

 Share with us what happened and maybe it will cause others to try this exercise. It’s all about us helping each other!!


Caregiver Interview


USE THE FOLLOWING questions for each candidate, carefully record their answers so you can make a meaningful and informed decision about whom to hire:

• “Tell me about yourself.” This open-ended question, simple as it is, can reveal a great deal about a person’s character, motivation, and priorities. Look in particular for a focus on others’ welfare.

• Ask applicants to describe their formal training for providing care. This will help you determine the candidate’s qualifications and skills.

• Ask whether they are bonded to insure security for your home and valuable possessions. If they are not bonded, ask whether they know of any factor that might bar their bonding.

• Ask about previous care giving work experience. Ask about each applicant’s length of time on the job, and the reason for leaving a job, to determine any personality conflicts and longevity on previous jobs.

• Ask the simple question, “Why do you want this job?” so you can determine a sense of commitment and dedication.

• As you discuss your needs, be aware of the would-be caregivers interjecting their view of how to do what you want and need.

• Ask about their availability and flexibility.

• Ask about their transportation to determine reliability.

• Ask about their health status to be aware of health limitations in performing your needed tasks.

• Ask for at least three employment and personal references; these should be from care-giving positions, if possible. It won’t help you if they were terrific cutting hair or something not related to caregiving but were not able to provide positive references from their caregiving positions.